By
FPI Staff
|
August 23, 2017

Higher Education Investment in Florida Remains Well Below Pre-Recession Level

This post was last updated on September 10, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.
On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Per pupil funding is 19 percent below what it was a decade ago, according to new report

Lake Mary, FL – Cuts to higher education in Florida have driven up tuition costs for families and students, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Over the past decade, tuition at public, four-year colleges in Florida increased by 62 percent, or an average of $2,436, while state spending per student, adjusted for inflation, is 19 percent ($1,820) below the pre-recession level. Florida did increase per pupil spending between 2016 and 2017 by 4.35 percent.

While postsecondary funding declined, the Legislature simultaneously approved a series of tax cuts that benefit business.

“Investing in public higher education benefits not only students and families, but business as well, ensuring that employers have a well-prepared labor force,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Florida Policy Institute. “Policymakers must consider what we are giving up by reducing available revenues. These funds should instead be invested in services like higher education that provide real benefit to Florida’s economy.”

After the recession, many states cut higher education funding even as enrollment rose, notes the report, with many states choosing to “fix budget deficits through sizeable budget cuts rather than a more balanced mix of spending reductions and revenue increases.” While the Legislature cut education funding during the recession, people believed that funding would be restored and adjusted for inflation as the economy improved. This has not been the case.

The report also points to research showing that as tuition goes up, students of color and low-income students are less likely to enroll, and low-income students may be pushed “toward less selective public institutions, reducing their future earnings.”

“More and more jobs require a postsecondary education. The Florida Legislature and Governor Scott should prioritize investment in public higher education,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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